Post-Exilic Confession

November 13, 2013 at 11:17 am | Posted in Ezra | 2 Comments
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Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

Ezra 9:1-2

One of the most common areas where “exiled” believers fell into unholiness is in the area of sexual immorality. The Jewish men had lusted after foreign women – unbelievers – which was forbidden. We might say, “Well, at least they married them,” but that argument becomes preposterous when you realize that they divorced their Jewish wives to do it! (Malachi 2:10-16)

Ezra found out this was going on because people told him about it. Did this make them a bunch of tattletales or gossip-mongers? No, because the offenders were their spiritual leaders. Ezra did not ignore this information, or sweep it under the rug. He did not preach an ambiguous sermon about it. He did not rush out in anger and confront them about it. No, he began to pray, weep, grieve, tear his clothes, pull out his hair and beard, and confess.

Three of the Old Testament’s great prayers of confession are found in Ezra Chapter 9, Nehemiah Chapter 9, and Daniel Chapter 9.

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Ezra 9:3

Are we this shocked over the sins of God’s people and our own sins?

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,

Ezra 9:5

Ezra experienced this “heaviness” as a result of his fasting, and he fasted not to obtain God’s favor, but because he was too sick to eat. Are we sickened by the sin of our spiritual leaders?

Father, I pray that we would return from any areas of our lives where we have been in spiritual exile, and that we would put to use the great gifts You have given us. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Comparisons, Calculations, and Christophany

July 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Daniel | 6 Comments
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Daniel Chapter 8 contains a vision which comes about 12 years before the handwriting on the wall incident. This is the vision of the goat and the ram, and here it extends into a comparison of Antiochus Epiphanes (whose name meant “revelation of the gods”), the ruler of Syria after the death of Alexander the Great. There are comparisons between Epiphanes and the Antichrist. They both begin modestly but increase in power. They both blaspheme God by speaking great things. They both persecute the Jews. They both claim to be gods and put images in the temple. They both impose their religion on the people. Both are opposed by a believing remnant that knows God. Both are energized by the devil and are great deceivers. Both appear successful and invincible. Both are defeated by a redeemer (Judas Maccabeus in the case of Epiphanes and Jesus Christ in the case of the Antichrist).

The events in Daniel Chapter 9 take place right after the handwriting on the wall incident – in 539 B.C. Daniel read the Word of God to prepare for prayer and worship.

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

Daniel 9:2-3

Daniel’s prayer was interrupted by the angel Gabriel.

And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

Daniel 9:20-21

Gabriel gave Daniel the prophecy of the 70 weeks.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Daniel 9:24

These “weeks” are seven-year periods, so the 70 “weeks” or 70 “sevens” are really 490 years. The first period is 49 years (7 X 7). This is the period of time found in Nehemiah 2:5-8 when Nehemiah was authorized to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and the gates, not just the temple.

The second period is 483 years (445 B.C. to 29/30 A.D.): the time of Christ’s ministry on earth. Daniel 9:27 deals with the final 7 years, known as the Tribulation – the pronoun “he” refers to the Antichrist, not the Messiah: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Daniel Chapter 10 shows us that the “70 week prophetic calendar” given in Daniel also had prophetic applications which have already become history. In the big picture, the 70 “times” are 70 periods of 70 years, but in Daniel’s time, there were two separate 70 year periods of fulfilled prophecy. The first Jews were deported to Babylon in 605 B.C., and the first captives returned to their land in 536 B.C. (70 years). The temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. and was rebuilt and dedicated in 515 B.C. (70 years).

Daniel was going through a period of three weeks of fasting and praying and using no ointment, probably in order to get more understanding about the visions and prophecies he had already been given. Daniel received a vision of what may have been Jesus Christ. Then he received knowledge of the battle between Gabriel and Michael and the demons who were the princes of Persia and Greece. Persia is modern Iran. (Modern Iraq is Biblical Babylon.)


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